Every year, we remind you that May is Mental Health Awareness month. Because one in every 4-5 people suffers from a mental health issue which is debilitating enough to be considered a mental illness, we can safely say that these disorders are very common. You probably know someone who is suffering, and you may not even know it. WHY? While we are openly talking about mental health like never before in the history of our country, we find that the stigma associated with mental illness still prevails enough that many people simply won’t admit to having a problem.

How do we change this? The answer is simple: Keep Talking About Mental Health. Talk about good mental health, as well as the disorders. Make everyone you come across aware of what Sanger said: “There is no health without mental health.” A person’s mental health is as important, if not more important, than their physical health. Mental illness, often, starts in childhood and recovery is possible if we can catch it on time; however, it often takes a decade or more before people seek help or get treatment.

Early intervention is key to success and recovery, so people need to feel safe enough to talk about their mental health issues without the feelings of impending judgement. We can help by learning and practicing active and non-judgemental listening skills and allowing people to tell us what is happening to them. We can openly talk about mental health. We can change the way we talk about mental illness and how we present the topics to our friends and family members. We can change mental health policies at work, especially those which limit future potential for those who openly admit they have mental health issues. Afterall, mental illness is rarely permanent and will affect each and every one of us sometime during our lives, even if we don’t want to admit it.

May is Mental Health Awareness month. At any given moment, one in every 4-5 people will suffer from a serious mental health disorder. Who do you know that you can help?

Mental Health First Aid News: Firefighters & EMS!

Attention all Firefighters and EMS personnel and your support teams:

The National Council for Behavioral Health, the agency which provides the certification for Mental Health First Aid and YOUTH Mental Health First Aid, has released a new version of the adult certification class created especially for Firefighters and EMS personnel. We are excited to be able to offer this training to you.

You are the heros who do the work that no one else wants to do and are often the first people on the scene to encounter those who are suffering or are experiencing extreme situational distress. In addition, you and your team, often, are engulfed in this stressful life on a consistent basis. The Mental Health First Aid for Fire and EMS Personnel certification class provides you with a series of tools which can help you to be more effective as a community helper and team member. You will learn about the most common mental disorders which you are likely to encounter, what the protective and risk factors are, what signs and symptoms to look for, and how to implement the ALGEE action plan to assist others until they can get appropriate professional help. 

Pam, our MHFA instructor, is the first in the State of Indiana to be certified to teach the Fire & EMS version of the MHFA certification class and has just scheduled our first training. If your Fire Department or Ambulance Service is interested in hosting a certification seminar, give us a call or email us for information. (317) 922-8022   MHFA@educationwellness.org

Help us spread the word, and let’s get as many Firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, drivers, dispatchers, and other support personnel certified as possible! We look forward to seeing you in class!

Seasonal Affect Disorder

Do you know someone suffering from “SAD”?  SAD stands for “Seasonal Affect Disorder.” We used to call it the “holiday blues.” We found, however, that SAD is much more than feeling sadness or depression during the holidays. It is usually linked to the seasons, but since we often see people we care about during the holidays, we may not notice the symptoms of SAD the rest of the season.

SAD is most common during the Autmn or Winter months; however, there are some people who suffer from SAD in the Spring or Summer months. During the other seasons, those who suffer from SAD tend to be happy and well-adjusted. We have read many articles and studies about how or why SAD occurs, but there is really no consensus. Like other types of major depression, we can probably assume that it has many causes, both physiologically and situationally, and depends upon the person who is suffering and the environment in which he or she lives or works.

You may know a few people who suffer from SAD, but how would you know? SAD is a kind of depression which happens only during certain times of year. It is characterized by the typical symptoms of other types of depression: sadness, loss of energy, feelings of hopelessness, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, increased agitation, loss of interest in the activities and people once enjoyed, and thoughts of suicide or death. People who suffer from Winter-forms of SAD may sleep much more than usual, have strong cravings for carbohydrates, overeat during Winter months, and seem to be retreating from civilization. Summer-forms of SAD may be characterized by high anxiety and agitation, lack of appetite, and insomnia.

The symptoms of SAD may be mild and managable, but they may also be strongly felt by the person suffering and can be serious, even debilitating. Like all mental health issues, if SAD affects a person’s ability to function in any one important part of his or her life, professional help may be helpful. Psychotherapy and a few medications have been shown to be helpful. In addition, a simple blood test could indicate if a person has a vitamin deficiency related to the season or the lack of sunlight, and a vitamin suppliment could be all it takes to help a person get through the season. Other types of therapy have been shown to be effective, as well. One of the most effective is called light therapy and is simply the use of a certain type of light which mimicks sunlight, once or twice per day.

SAD is treatable, and you may be able to help someone who is suffering from it. Don’t be afraid to ask the person if he or she would like to talk. Tell them you noticed something and ask about it. If you suspect the depression is severe, ask if the person is thinking about suicide. Suggest professional help. Just asking may be the key to jolting a person into realizing something is wrong and help is available.


New Mental Health First Aiders!

Congratulations to our new YOUTH Mental Health First Aiders!

Several individuals and organizations were represented at our latest YOUTH Mental Health First Aid class hosted by the Tipton County Foundation. Representatives from Boone and Madison County CASA programs, FSA of Howard County’s Healthy Families program, Ivy Tech State College, Tipton County Public Library, Meridian Health Services, East Pointe Bible Church, and more came to our 8-hour certification course to learn about mental health issues experienced by our children and youth and what to do if they come across a child who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Instruction, role play, case studies, and several activities, as well as opportunities to network over good food, provided the structure of the training. Each participant became certified through the National Council for Behavioral Health! Congratulations!